Sort file:- Chatham, June, 2022.

Page Updated:- Friday, 03 June, 2022.


Earliest 1671-

King's Arms

Demolished 2002

18 Medway Street (Holburn Lane 1828)


King's Arms 1990s

Above photo circa 1990s following the fire.

King's Arms 2002

Above pub was demolished in December 2002.

King's Arms sign 1987King's Arms sign 1991

Above sign left, November 1987. Sign right, October 1991.

Thanks from Brian Curtis

Kings Arms Token 1671

Above token 1671, kindly sent by Mark Reed.




The Medway Archives and Local Studies Centre has referenced a set of documents, that I haven't seen yet, and is part of the Watts Charity MSS, 1579-1972.

Reference is made as follows:-


T32. The "Kings Arms," and Holborn Wharf and premises, Holborn Lane [deed of 1862 includes "King's Head," High Street and several other messuages. Particulars and conditions of sale, 1906, with plan] (11 docs.)


The 1828, 1864 and 1872 directories gave the address as Holborn Wharf. I believe it has also been incorrectly referred to as the "King's Head."

The Licensing Records of 1872 stated that the premises held a Full License and was owned by the Trustees of Watts Charity in Rochester. It further went to say that the premises had recently burnt down but that the license was granted for the adjoining property.

I have traced this back to as early as 1760 from documents held at the Medway Archives and Local Studies Centre and is part of the Watts Charity MSS, 1579-1972.


Kentish Weekly Post or Canterbury Journal 25 June 1819.

On Friday morning, Mrs. Filmer, widow of Mr. Filmer, late landlord of the "King's Arms," public-house, Chatham, put a period to her existence by swallowing a quantity of arsenic. The deceased had been formerly in St. Luke's, and has lately been in so desponding a state of mind, that the Coroner's Jury which was empanelled on the occasion, without hesitation, gave in a verdict of - Insanity.


braddyFrom the Kentish Gazette, 27 October 1840.


On Monday evening a fearful accident happened in the Medway, near Chatham, by which seven men perished. It appeared that a party of lumpers, 16 in number, had been at work on board a merchant ship in the river, and about seven o'clock they all got into a skiff for the purpose of returning to the shore. It was then blowing a gale from the N.W., and the water was very rough, while the boat was not at all adapted for a heavy sea, or to carry to many persons. On nearing a vessel close in shore, over which the party intended to go for the purpose of stepping from the ship to the shore, a wave rolled in, and in rebounding from the ship struck the boat, and the men becoming alarmed all got up and made a rush to get ashore, but ere one of them could reach the land the boat capsized and immersed the whole party in the stream. A distressing scene ensued; the parties clung to each other and begun struggling in the water, and before any assistance could reach them, seven of them perished. Some of the survivors managed to swim ashore, and others were picked up by a fishing boat. Measures were immediately taken to recover the drowning men, but, owing to the boisterous state of the weather, without effect. On Tuesday and Wednesday the bodies of six of the unfortunate men were recovered and taken ashore.


On Thursday, at 11 o'clock. Mr. Hindo, one of the coroners for the western division of the county, held an inquest at the "King's Arms," Chatham, on the bodies. The names of the misfortunate men are as follows:- James Hovenden, William Curtis, Charles Genr, William Sower, William Paine, James Belsom, and Robert Clarke, six of whom have left widows and a large number of children to deplore their untimely end. A report having got abroad that the boat from which the unfortunate men were lost was not capable of conveying with safety the number of persons, amounting to 16, who had entrusted their lives to it on the occasion in question, the jury made a most minute inspection in order to ascertain that fact. It was found, however, that those rumours were totally unfounded, as the boat was a proper London-built skiff, measuring 20 feet from stem to stern, and four and a half feet in the beam, and was at the time in a perfect and seaworthy condition. On the return of the jury, five men, named Charles Vokes, William Forrester, William Barr, James Hunter, and David Phillips, who were among the survivors and had narrowly escaped, were severally called and examined, but as the depositions were merely a repetition of each other, we shall only give the substance of them.

It appeared that a person named Rawlinson, who resides in Chatham, and follows the business of a timber lumper (i.e. a person who contracts for discharging cargoes of timber,) had sent a number of labourers usually employed by him for this purpose on the day in question on board the brig Amy, of Quebec, laden with timber for the use of her Majesty's dock yard, at Chatham. This brig lay at anchor in the river about 30 or 40 yards westward of the convict-ship, in order to finish the discharge of the cargo, at which her crew had been employed during the five previous days. It was usual for Mr. Rawlinson to accompany his men on such occasions, but having business of a particular nature, which required his attendance elsewhere, he left the management of the matter to an old experienced seaman named Phillips, in whose steadiness and caution he reposed the utmost confidence. The labours of the day having been concluded at half-past five o’clock, the persons whose names are already given, together with three whose named Joseph Hitlay, Thomas Perfect, and William Paine, left the vessel for the purpose of returning to Holborn-wharf, Chatham, about a mile and a half distant from the dock-yard on the same shore. At this time the wind blew a gale from the north, which rendered it necessary for the persons in the boat to row across towards the weather shore, as, on account of the swell, it was impossible to proceed in a direct line with safety. They succeeded in crossing close to the sheer-hulk, and got onwards upwards of a mile under the weather shore, until nearly opposite Holborn-wharf. They then attempted to cross, but when they got into the broken water, within about 20 yards of the desired point, the boat shipped a heavy surf and almost immediately filled. For some time before considerable alarm prevailed amongst the crew, many of whom were altogether inexperienced in nautical matters, but at this critical period the majority lost all self possession, and several of them rose with the intention of precipitating themselves into the water, and trusting to chance for safety. Phillips, who was looked to as the most experienced and cool-headed amongst them addressed them in a brief and hurried manner, telling them that they must look out and not cling to each other, but each endeavour to save himself. Whilst he was speaking three or four of the most daring jumped from the head of the boat—an example which Phillips himself immediately followed; and almost at the same moment, whether from the effect of the rebound or from some other cause, which cannot be correctly ascertained, the boat upset keel upper most. The scene at this moment, as described by all, was truly awful, but the account given by Perfect, who was himself insensible for several hours, and was resuscitated with much difficulty, is perhaps the most vivid. He stated, that after they had been thrown out, he was cast by accident against the boat again, and immediately seized the keel. Almost simultaneously with this effort he felt one of his legs grasped by Belsom, who clung to him with the utmost tenacity, and just as both were about to sink together a receding wave from the shore struck the unfortunate man and carried him into the surge. Perfect, although nearly exhausted, summoned his remaining strength, and with great exertion succeeded in regaining the keel. In an instant a brave little fellow, a mere boy, named Eves, cast a rope, the end of which Perfect luckily caught, and by this means was dragged to the shore, but in a state of utter insensibility. Whilst the lad Evre, assisted by several spectators (crowds of whom had by this time reached the shore), was drawing Perfect to land, the bodies of three others were thrown up within reach by the waves. All hands were in immediate requisition to render every assistance within human power; and whilst the bodies were being removed by some to the parlour of the "King's Arms Tavern," which was almost at hand, and in which a good fire was already blazing, others were despatched in quest of surgeons, seven or eight of whom made their appearance in nearly as many minutes. Every method of resuscitation recommended and adopted by the Humane Society was instantaneously employed by Drs. Bryent, Marlin, Robinson, Tride, and others, whose names our reporter was unable to collect; but, although it was said that Clarke and James showed evident signs of animation after being placed on the floor, yet, with the exception of the case of Perfect already mentioned, the utmost efforts to recover the sufferers were unattended with success.

The usual expedients of applying hot flannels and inflating the lungs were tried, long after the period when such applications might be pronounced hopeless, as the medical man were anxious that nothing which science or ingenuity could suggest should be left unemployed. In the case of Perfect, hot bricks to the soles of the feet were tried; but whether his restoration was attributed to that circumstances or not, were not clearly ascertained. It is likely, however, they they were only useful in his case in consequence of the aid so timely afforded him. Two of the persons whose bodies were washed on shore at the period alluded to were those of men who had been in the marines service for a greet number of years. One, named Gear, had been a sergeant in the Marine Artillery for 28 years. As a great deal of the responsibility rested upon Phillips, in consequence of his master having placed him in charge of the boat and men, he was examined at great length. His evidence, however, which was given in a clear and explicit manner, went merely to show that on many previous occasions he had gone in the same boat with 20 persons, and that therefore it was a perfectly safe conveyance for the number it contained on the occasion in question. He stated, that he had used all the skill and knowledge he possessed, but that no human power could have averted the calamity; at the same time, he believed that if Belsom, who was the first who jumped from the boat, had retained his seat, they might have got safe to shore.

The coroner having summed up the evidence, the jury, after a short deliberation, returned a verdict of "Accidental Death." They afterwards desired Mr. Rawlinson to be brought before them, when they assured him that not the slightest blame attached to him in consequence of the melancholy event they had to investigate.


Kentish Gazette 3 November 1840.


October 23, Mr. Benjamin Braddy, landlord of the "King's Head" sic. public house, Holborn Wharf, Chatham, to which the bodies of the unfortunate men who were lately drowned were taken. Mr. Braddy had for some time been in bad health, but his end was accelerated by that melancholy catastrophe.


Kentish Gazette, 2 January 1844.

The Rival Coroners. A Double Inquest.

On Friday morning last a man named Patrick Knowlan, a private in the 3rd buffs, was discovered lying dead close beneath the platform of a wharf at the bottom of Holborn-lane, Chatham. It would appear that deceased had mistaken his way and fallen from the wharf which is used for landing coals from the river, a depth of about eight feet, upon the muddy beach below, which was then strewn with refuse coal. There was a large and severe wound upon the left temple, and a piece of coal was sticking in the left cheek close below the eye. The whole left side of the face was much contused. He had evidently, from the state of his clothes, been covered with water, which overflows this spot at the period of spring-tides. Although nothing certain is known, it is generally supposed that he took Holborn-lane for the West-lane which leads to the barracks, and that walking forward in the darkness he fell from the wharf.

Mr. Lewis, the coroner for the city of Rochester, claims jurisdiction over all bodies found in the water at this spot, and as the unfortunate man had evidently been immersed, he thought this a proper case for the exercise of his office, and accordingly summoned a jury to sit upon the body at 10 o'clock on Friday morning; but on his going to view the deceased he found that it was at the "King’s Arms," Chatham, in the hands of Bines, the Chatham constable, as the representative of Mr. Hinde, one of the coroners for the eastern division of the county of Kent, who refused to give up the key of the room, but allowed Mr. Lewis and his jury to view the body. They then returned to the "Nag’s Head," Rochester, and having heard the evidence of John Shepherd, a fisherman, who deposed that a carter going on to the beach for coals at half-past seven on Friday morning found the body as already described, the jury returned a verdict of "Found Dead."

Mr. Himle, the county coroner, held another inquest upon the deceased at the "King’s Arms," and after taking the evidence of William Wittingham, the carter, who found the body, and Frederick Collins, a corporal of the 3rd buffs, who stated that he saw the deceased on the evening preceding his death, and he was then sober, the jury returned a verdict of "Accidental Death." Each of the coroners issued a warrant for the interment of the body. The disputed jurisdiction, it is believed, will now be submitted to the decision of a higher court, in order to settle what is here considered a "vexata questio." (Overrun problem.)


From the Rochester and Chatham Journal and Mid-Kent Advertiser, Saturday, September 2, 1876.


The magistrates hear adjourned for some time to take of luncheon. On business being resumed the following persons, who had been convicted of various offences during the year, and his cases had been deferred in consequence, apply for the renewal of their licences. vis. Thomas Cameron, "Kings Arms," Chatham....

The other licences were renewed after the holders had been cautioned.



After a fire in the 1990s the pub remained a ruin till it was eventually demolished in 2002. I am informed that the site has not yet (2017) been built upon.


King's Arms site 2016

Above Google image 2016.



WILLS/WELLS Robert 1791-93+ Trade Directory 1793

FILMER Mr pre 1818

SHIPMAN Edmund 1828+ Pigot's Directory 1828-29

LITLEY William George 1832+ Pigot's Directory 1832-34 (Holbourn Wharf)

BRADDY Benjamin dec'd to Nov/1840

ALLEN John 1851+ (age 55 in 1851Census)

MARSHMENT Thomas 1858+

CAMERON Thomas 1862-74+ (age 60 in 1871Census) Licensing Records 1872

BALLARD John 1881-91+ (age 47 in 1881Census)

BARNARD Daniel Hardy 1901-03+ (age 41 in 1901Census) Kelly's 1903

FOREMAN George Edwin 1911-13+ (also Police Pensioner age 49 in 1911Census)

FOREMAN Elizabeth Mrs -1922-30+

HATTERSLEY Charles 1938+

PUNTER W J A 1950+

Last pub licensee had WILLIAMSON James & Winifred 1960s

Last pub licensee had WILDING William D 1972-73 dec'd


Trade Directory 1793Universal British Directory of Trade 1793

Pigot's Directory 1828-29From the Pigot's Directory 1828-29

Pigot's Directory 1832-34From the Pigot's Directory 1832-33-34

Kelly's 1903From the Kelly's Directory 1903

Licensing Records 1872Licensing Records 1872



If anyone should have any further information, or indeed any pictures or photographs of the above licensed premises, please email:-